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Thread: New Web Developer Seeks Wise Advise

  1. #1
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    New Web Developer Seeks Wise Advise

    Hey Guys,

    I fell into web development earlier this summer and I love it. I have been working with wordpress and premium themes to give my clients professional looking informational and e-commerce websites.

    I started my first site for a friend and now I am quickly getting interest from more and more prospects.

    I am about to start my own company and do this full time.

    My main concerns right now are coming up with a price sheet even if its just for my own reference. I want to know what you experienced web developers are charging for a base website or ecommerce site and then how much you charge for things like content creation and adding products and creating social media sites for clients etc... any help is greatly appreciated.

    I also desperately need help coming up with a legal contract for my new business.
    Does anyone know good templates to start with?
    Do you or does the client own the site?
    Are you making money off of hosting as well as charging a per month rate that includes an hour of updates?

    Any help or advise is greatly appreciated. Please tell me everything you wish you knew when you were just starting out. I am really excited to start my new career path and thanks again.

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  3. #2
    Senior Member Ronald Roe's Avatar
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    Price = (How much my time is worth) * (How many hours it takes)

    For contracts, check out docracy.com

    The best template is the one you make yourself. Do your own work. It's just as important in the real world as it was in school.

    Site ownership is defined in the contract. For me, the client owns the site and all the graphics created for it. I retain rights to the code and all source files, as well as the right to use the site for advertisement.

    On hosting: some do, I don't. I don't like dealing with it. I help them obtain it, but that's it.

    I wish I'd had a better foundation in design theory when I started. I floundered on that for a long time, and still do sometimes. It is a great path to go down. I wish I could drop everything and do it full time, but I took an oath that I can't exactly back out of at the moment.

    One of the most important things I can tell you is: don't get too hung up on tools of the trade. No matter what you think, you don't need to run out and buy Dreamweaver. Try it. If you like it, fine. Go with it. But I bet you'll love many of the other open source code editors out there as much if not more. And that goes for graphic editors, ftp clients...everything. Don't worry about whether you're using what "they" think is the best. Find a set up that works and just go with it. It doesn't matter what you use as long as the work you do is awesome.

    That's about all I have right now. I'm sure I'll think of something else moments after I click the Post Reply button.

  4. #3
    Unpaid WDF Intern TheGAME1264's Avatar
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    I'm going to answer all of your questions with the same answer...you're not ready. You're not ready because you have to ask these sorts of questions. You might think you are, and you might think I'm an a-hole for saying this, but that's not the case.

    First of all, you're asking people who may or may not be competitors to tell you how to run your business based on how they run theirs. Ron was nice enough to tell you that, but he's in a position very few others are in...he has a regular, full-time job and really has little to nothing to lose by doing that. He's also not in the business full-time. Most people who are generally aren't going to tell you much about how they run their business, especially if they have acquired proprietary knowledge about certain things. And if they do tell you that, they told everyone else that too.

    Second, you want to build your business working with WordPress and premium themes. Besides giving away your own business model, your model is unoriginal on a pair of levels. There are quite a few people that do this (and don't do very well at it), and you'll be one of "them". You're also supplying your clients with unoriginal websites and as soon as they need any custom work done, you're screwed.

    Third, you're asking people to tell you the mistakes they made so that you can avoid them and everything they wish they knew so you can learn it. There are things I wish I knew early on that I worked damn hard to figure out, and I know I'm not the only one. If someone shares them with you, great...if not, you didn't earn the right to know them.

    I'd strongly suggest to you that you find a company to work for ... not with, for ... for at least 2-3 years until you get an idea of what you're doing, what people want, what is charged, how contracts are generated, etc. Doing a site for a friend and "finding prospects" based on that site to build "WordPress with premium theme" sites isn't a business model at all...it's a wannabe script kiddy business model.
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  5. #4
    Senior Member Ronald Roe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheGAME1264 View Post
    Ron was nice enough to tell you that, but he's in a position very few others are in...he has a regular, full-time job and really has little to nothing to lose by doing that.
    That may be true in the near term, but it won't be in the future. I didn't give out anything I consider proprietary or even vital to my own business model, just some good general stuff to push him in the direction he wants to go. There's a fine line between the two for sure, and I'm careful of that because I have my future business to lose down the road.

  6. #5
    WDF Staff mlseim's Avatar
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    I can't imagine how someone could make a living doing web design or development as a full-time job. I suppose if you had a spouse that worked full-time and carried the health insurance, or something like that ... it could work. There are just too many design and developers in the world.

    Now if a person was very experienced with server-side languages, native languages, server expertise, and downright "genius" at software, you could probably find a fairly high-paying position with a large company (even Google perhaps). If only 1% of us members on WDF (and I would not be in the 1%) fit into this level, that would make the odds of making a good living fairly slim.

    What is the future of websites? Would you be better off focusing on apps, information processing, api, data aquisition, and "physical world" internet control? What if nobody wants or needs a website in 5 years?

    I hate to be the "downer" and have a lack of optimism, but I see the internet becoming something very different than "websites". WordPress will also fade away in time. I wouldn't put the future of supporting my family in the hands of someone else's scripting.

    Pay attention to things like Google Glasses. Yes, it's expensive, doesn't seem to do much, is a geeky gadget, etc, but it's things like Google Glasses that breaks new technology barriers and sparks new ideas not yet thought of. Look what has happened with smart phones? And don't forget that in 1983 large corporations like Sperry Univac didn't think the IBM personal computer would ever go anywhere. I worked for Univac and actually sat in meetings where the topic of "small, expensive, glorified game machines" were being discussed. Mainframe Computers were the norm, and they ruled the business world. Businesses would never invest in toy computers. By 2000, the Univac plant was a field of prairie grass and tumbleweed.
    Last edited by mlseim; Jul 16th, 2013 at 07:54 PM.


  7. #6
    Unpaid WDF Intern TheGAME1264's Avatar
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    It's possible, and I did it for about 8 years before I got married. Now that I am and my wife has health insurance, it's a lot easier, though.

    There were times where it wasn't pretty, but it is doable and it's a whole lot better than working for a company going into offices and being the corporate dog. On the rare occasions I'm on site at a client's, I'm reminded of how much I prefer working from home.

    Is it for everyone? No. Is it for most people? No. Basically, you have to have a certain mindset...you have to be able to think for yourself, you have to accept that you've earned nothing, and you have to bust your ***. Most people aren't prepared for that and want the quick fix...it doesn't exist.
    If I've helped you out in any way, please pay it forward. My wife and I are walking for Autism Speaks. Please donate, and thanks.

    If someone helped you out, be sure to "Like" their post and/or help them in kind. The "Like" link is on the bottom right of each post, beside the "Share" link.

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    Senior Member Webzarus's Avatar
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    Corporate dog... Hey wait a second, I reseme that remark.

    i think TheGame hit it on his first response. Based on the username you chose, your lack of experience, and you desire to have someone just hand you the answers, you'll be in the 5 pages for 99 crowd in no time... Just trying to make it work.

    i may be wrong, but I've seen this so many times, repeat, wash, rinse, repeat again and hope for a different outcome.

    the fact that this question has been asked and answered on this forum numerous times, but you didn't even bother to look, tells me your thinking this stuff is easy... Well, some of it is... But that's another story. Personally, I don't have to knock on doors, I have a 6 month waiting list of people that came to me because of past and current clients, what does that mean ? $$$$ ... Because I can give them factual advice, and generally meet their needs for their projects.

    to be honest, you can take whatever road you want, but if you disregard getting as much experience in every aspect of the business before you jump into it, you will just be creating more clients for people like TheGame, RR, Alpha, Me and the rest of the experienced crowd. 80% of my clients have dealt with new guys "just learning" and realized that just because someone can make pretty pages isn't always the defining point for their business website.

    -
    as for the legal stuff, pay for a real lawyer to discuss contracts, sure you can probably buy them of the Internet, but isn't that kinda like reading about brain surgery and then trying to perform it... A lawyer will actually explain that if you don't do exactly what your contract specifies, the you are legally liable... Besides that, contracts are usually a "negotiation"... And rarely does a client accept my contract as written... And most of them do have lawyers or legal counsel... To advise them. Contracts in general are written to benefit the "author" so you need to know and understand what and how they change the contract and how those changes impact you .... Like "did this change really say if I don't do this, I forfeit all payments ?"... Yes, I had a contract come back to me that specified, if I did not proved a certain thing ( that was impossible to provide ), that the contract was null and void, and they keep all "products of work"... It was eventually changed, but that's just one example of knowing and understanding contracts is not for the "un-informed"...
    TheGAME1264 likes this.

  9. #8
    Senior Member Webzarus's Avatar
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    On, BTW, yes, I have a second job as well, I work as a corporate network security specialist, make a damn good living at that alone, and I make more money in 1 network security consulting freelance job than I do for multiple web sites, but I have been doing web stuff for 15+ years, sure I could live on what I make doing that, because I get paid extremely well, because I have the knowledge and experience from 15+ years and I have built a reputation of delivering anything the client wants while steering them away from things they think they want.

    I have recruited and helped many designers "starting out"... And the only ones still doing this and actually making a living are the one that put "their time" into learning everything they can... The ones that think this is a "make big money" industry, never actually make it in this industry.

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    It may be a wanna be script kiddy business model, but I have already made $5,000 this month building informational and e-commerce websites with Wordpress. In addition I charge X for updates which include an hour of work per site per month. I have interest from numerous other people for the work I have already done. What I realized quickly is when it comes to the web, people are dumbfounded. The small businesses and doctors I have been working for don't know the first thing about how to create a website, so when they see a professional looking site that has everything we spoke about they are happy.

    Yes you guys know that what I am doing is simple and you may put me down for that but if I am making some real money and in a few years if I have X coming in automatically each year than it is a serious business.

    I know im a noob. I know that. I came to this forum because I am starting to make money and I want to continue to make money and be professional while doing it. You may say using wordpress to build sites isnt professional or its the easy way out. To you maybe, but like I said I am getting paid good money right now and the clients are happy. That is all that matters to me.

    The Game says I am asking my competitors for advice. That may be true but at the same time I thought this was a community for web developers to talk and help each other. I am not asking for your proprietary secrets. I just wanted advise.

    I also read that a lot of web developers are pist because these new guys coming in are charging 400 bucks a site which is messing up the market and making a real profession look silly. That is why I am here I want to learn from people who have done it before. Every awesome thing I have done whether its making websites or turning a 125cc motorcycle into a 233cc beast, has been from great people on great forums just like this.

  11. #10
    Unpaid WDF Intern TheGAME1264's Avatar
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    I can't speak for anyone else, but I'm not buying any of your claims. I don't believe you're making "$5,000 for informational and e-commerce websites on WordPress", and if you are, you're in way over your head with the latter.

    Building an e-commerce site in WordPress is a lot like saying, "okay, I want to build an office condo unit and I've got this 100-piece tool set my mom bought me from Sears for Christmas and not much else." There are tons of things you need to take into account when building an e-commerce site and doing it properly. Here are just ten of those things, and I guarantee you that there are at least 2 on this list you either haven't considered or haven't even heard of before:

    PCI compliance
    SSL
    Server administration and updates
    Encryption of sensitive information and storage into a database
    Whether or not auto-rebilling is an option
    SEO
    SEM
    Privacy policies
    Refund policies
    Payment processing APIs
    Shipping APIs as applicable

    Again, that's what popped into my mind as a short list of things that I have to keep in mind when I build e-commerce sites. If you just started "this summer", there is no way you know about all of these things. There just isn't. Ever had a PCI compliance scan done on any of your sites before? Go ahead and arrange for one with the payment processor for one of your sites if you haven't. Don't rely on your host to be PCI compliant either...most aren't. Even some of the ones that claim they are really aren't. Get the report back with all of the errors on it and then try to solve those. Then let's see how serious you are about web design and development as a career...based on your responses, if you even bother to do this, you'll run with your tail tucked between your legs so fast it'll make the rest of our heads spin.

    A web design forum is a place to receive help and to give help...on matters related to web design and development. If you're struggling with a code issue, or you're not sure what color to use for something, or you want feedback for something you've built, that's what it's there for. There is no forum on the planet that I'm aware of that exists to teach people how to run their businesses, nor should there be...that's something people have to learn on their own.

    You also have to understand that on any forum, web design or otherwise, you're not entitled to anything. Just because you ask a question doesn't mean someone has to or should give you an answer. They're a resource you go to when you have a question, but they shouldn't be the only resource. Like WZ said, some of the stuff you asked can only be answered by a professional lawyer...no one else. That's the beginning, the middle, and the end. If you're serious, talk to and pay for a lawyer...if you're making $5,000 a month (and again, I doubt that), you can and should afford one.

    You've been given the best advice you could have possibly been given based on your question. You found a few people willing to pay you some money, but working as a freelance web designer isn't a get-rich-quick industry, and it's a lot harder than the low barrier to entry makes it appear. If you're serious, then you'll study all sorts of different things and at least learn them, if not master them. If not...maybe you should look at being a dirt bike repairman. No sarcasm intended here whatsoever.
    If I've helped you out in any way, please pay it forward. My wife and I are walking for Autism Speaks. Please donate, and thanks.

    If someone helped you out, be sure to "Like" their post and/or help them in kind. The "Like" link is on the bottom right of each post, beside the "Share" link.

    My stuff (well, some of it): My bowling alley site | Canadian Postal Code Info (beta)


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